Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that are applied to the grooves on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to protect them from tooth decay. Sealants protect the chewing surfaces from tooth decay by keeping germs and food particles out of these grooves.
Sealants are generally most beneficial for children and teens, and the molars are the best teeth on which to apply sealants. The first molars usually come into the mouth when a child is about 6 years old. Second molars appear at about age 12.
Applying sealants is simple. After the teeth are cleaned, a special gel is placed on the chewing surface of the molars for a few seconds. The teeth are then washed off and dried, and the sealant is painted on the tooth. In just a few minutes, the sealants harden to form a protective shield on the tooth. A sealant can last for as long as 5 to 10 years. They should be checked at regular dental appointments and reapplied if they are no longer in place.